Embattled newspaper giant



said its audit committee has found an overstatement of circulation figures at its

Chicago Sun-Times


The company didn't specify the size of the overstatement or when it occurred, other than to say it took place "over the past several years." The company said its probe of


practices would continue.

"The review of the newspaper's circulation reporting practices intensified following a previously announced daily, single-copy price increase that went into effect on April 1, 2004, and issues with previously reported circulation figures were discovered," the company said after the market closed Tuesday.

An article last month in the


said the paper has a daily circulation of 486,936, compared with 614,548 for the rival

Chicago Tribune

, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Hollinger said its audit committee is being assisted by outside counsel Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP, and expects that its review would be completed by the end of next month.

Hollinger did say an internal inquiry of its U.K. properties showed that circulation figures hadn't been overstated there. Hollinger is trying to sell the U.K. properties amid a flurry of lawsuits with its former chairman.

Hollinger, which also owns London's

Daily Telegraph

and the

Jerusalem Post

, has sought to sell its overseas holdings in the wake of a nasty dispute with former chairman and controlling shareholder Conrad Black. Black was fired by the company and sued by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

in January. The company claims that Black and another former exec helped themselves to some $32 million in unauthorized payments in what Hollinger called "systematic schemes to divert corporate assets and opportunities to themselves."

For his part, Black tried to sell Hollinger in January, but the SEC blocked the move pending its investigation.

On Tuesday, Hollinger stock rose 37 cents to close at $17.87.